South Padre: April 2016

South Padre: April 2016
Christopher Spiers with a 9-pound trophy. CPR!

Heading into April always produces a mix of emotions. I hate the prospects of fighting windy conditions all month. Then again, I love the fact that our trout often attain the greatest weights we see all year. Cold fronts are fewer but the boat traffic increases.

Despite the possible negatives, the Laguna Madre comes alive in April. Seagrasses flourish, mullet will be jumping everywhere and piggy perch can be seen darting around potholes. Quite often we see tiny shrimp skipping along the surface and telltale mud trails from stingrays on the flats remind waders to step cautiously.

If drifting is the way you prefer to fish, you may want to invest in an extra drift sock, or two. You may get a window of opportunity in the morning, but if the breeze is stiff through the night you might find nearly the whole bay churned to the point of barely fishable. Launch early and make the best of it.

Protected shorelines will be our allies this month. The edges of color changes and murky streaks can be good places to find trout and reds hiding in ambush. Potholes are always worthwhile targets, if and when they can be seen in wind-stirred water. Many times a pothole will be holding multiple trout so always hold your ground and fan-cast the area thoroughly after hooking-up.

Sand flats on the east side from South Padre all the way up to Port Mansfield will turn on in April. The presence of stingrays is a good sign that small baitfish and crustaceans are abundant. Redfish can often be found working alongside the rays, and occasionally large trout will cruise the same water, feeding opportunistically on baitfish the rays disturb.

Paddle-tailed soft plastics are a good bet in murky water as the tails give off vibration for fish to key on. Scented lures can also make a big difference. Quite often I see anglers hurrying through off-colored water to reach a cleaner stretch but even a single bite is enough reason to put on the brakes and work the area thoroughly–no matter the water color.

As the water warmed this past month the fish began to scatter, especially the bigger trout. We have caught and released some pretty good fish in the last few weeks but only after wading all day for that one big bite. In other words, they have not come easy.

Topwaters will soon begin producing more steadily and on windier days I recommend noisier plugs like the MirrOlure She Dog. If you are lucky to find a calm day my trust would lie with the Super Spook Jr. or a Bagley Rattling Finger Mullet.

Redfish catches continue to be somewhat sporadic, especially during windy days. When we have found them they seem to be in tight schools. Mud boils made by feeding and spooked reds have been some of our best signals. Multiple mud boils indicate you might have found a school. Plum-chartreuse K-Wiggler Ball Tail Shads have been working in murky water and Flomingo is a good choice when the water is clearer. If shrimp are plentiful in April we could see some bird activity as gulls and terns hover above feeding fish.

I want to recognize my sponsors who have joined me in promoting a new conservation incentive in my charter business–Shallow Sport Boats, Simms, K-Wigglers, Costa del Mar, and Fishing Tackle Unlimited. My snook trips have always been strictly catch and release, likewise I have always encouraged CPR on big trout. Recently I began increasing the CPR emphasis.

I am pleased and excited to offer catch and release trips on all species. Whoever agrees to release all fish caught when fishing with me will receive a Simms or Shallow Sport cap or a Costa sun mask. Their name, and all anglers onboard, will be entered in a drawing to be held at the 2017 Houston Fishing Show. The winner will receive a free, full-day guided fishing trip for two; along with two FTU rods, a pair of Costa sunglasses, and K-Wiggler lures for the trip.

Since I started this incentive back on February 12 we have caught and released 202 "keeper" fish, including all the big trout we have landed.

In closing I want to recognize Shallow Sport for putting me on a new 24 Classic. The ride this boat offers is way beyond my expectations. I say, if you are ready to pull the trigger on a new boat, I highly recommend you take a look at one of these magnificent machines. Better yet, come fish with me and find out for yourself.

Best fishing to you!